The Artist Couple Making Ceramics on a 19th-Century Farm in Paris


The branches of the quince tree hanging over the front gate of the Parisian home of the ceramic artists Michel and Andrée Hirlet heave with knobbly yellow fruit, adding color to an otherwise gray streetscape. “

There were more a few days ago, but we put a note on the gate saying that we are giving out quinces, and now we have the jam the neighbors have made,” Andrée reports, gesturing through the open kitchen door to the glass pots resting on a bench.


The couple’s 16th Arrondissement abode, with its verdant inner courtyard surrounded by light-filled rooms and wide-windowed workshops, has a provincial feel.

Indeed, it was built as a city farm in 1830; in the living room, Andrée produces an old floor plan that maps out horse stables, a saddlery and storage space for wine. “When we arrived, it wasn’t in very good condition,” she says.

Nevertheless, the couple, both 84, have now lived and made ceramics here for 50 years.

Working outside of any wider artistic community or movement, and through intuitive collaboration, they have created a vernacular all their own, experimenting with bold colors and developing a unique to form that appears at once ancient and strikingly contemporary.